All Pennsylvania drivers are required to carry automobile insurance. Car insurance protects drivers against financial losses such as medical costs and property damage that result from an auto accident. PA drivers who are found driving without auto insurance face civil penalties (fines and fees) as well as a three-month suspension of their driver’s license and vehicle registration. The law specifying mandatory automobile insurance in Pennsylvania is known as the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL).
The MVFRL requires Pennsylvania drivers to maintain the coverages listed below. Keep in mind that while minimum insurance coverage limits comply with the law, higher limits are generally recommended – especially as it relates to “limited tort” (which we never recommend) versus “full tort” options. Choosing liability and other insurance limits is addressed in a separate blog entry, “Choosing Auto Insurance in Pennsylvania.”
This insurance covers medical bills for you (the policyholder) and any other individuals covered by your insurance policy (such as family members), regardless of fault. In Pennsylvania, the minimum medical benefit limit is $5,000.
This coverage applies to accidents in which the policyholder is at fault for injuries to another person or persons. The coverage includes medical and rehabilitation expenses, as well as any damages for which the policyholder is found liable. Pennsylvania’s minimum limit is $15,000/$30,000. This means $15,000 of coverage for injuries to one person, and $30,000 of coverage total for all people injured in an accident.
Property damage liability applies to damages caused to another person’s property in an accident for which the policyholder is at fault. The minimum limit for this type of insurance is $5,000.Note: Together, minimum limits for bodily injury liability and property damage liability are typically expressed as follows: 15/30/5 or 15,000/30,000/5,000. This represents $15,000 per person, $30,000 total per accident of bodily injury liability, and $5,000 of property damage coverage. Some companies may offer a single limit of $35,000, which would also meet Pennsylvania’s minimum requirements.
Motorists must also choose full or limited tort coverage. This topic is covered in-depth in a separate blog, “Full Tort or Limited Tort? ” In short, a tort is a civil wrong or injury committed upon you. Full tort coverage allows you to collect for all damages and injuries you may receive in an automobile accident. Limited tort coverage limits you to collecting only specified sums for out-of-pocket medical and other expenses. Limited tort does not permit policyholders to collect for pain and suffering unless the injuries meet a very narrow definition of “serious injury,” which includes only death, serious impairment of bodily function, or permanent or serious disfigurement. And just about every single person with limited tort coverage who has ever called our office after being injured in an accident has wished that they had full tort coverage instead.Numerous optional insurance coverages, such as Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM), are also available. Many of these coverage options make sound financial sense and should be seriously considered when purchasing automobile insurance.Think about it this way: many of our readers live and commute through relatively rural areas of PA including Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Wyoming and Carbon counties. We go into cities like Scranton, Carbondale, Hazleton and Wilkes-Barre. We drive along Route 309, Interstate 80, the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Route 276) and the Northeast Extension (Route 476). We encounter other drivers and road hazards for which we have no control. And each year in Pennsylvania, large trucks are involved in nearly 7,000 of motor vehicle accidents. Knowing all of this, having a good auto insurance policy should be a priority.Additional information about motor vehicle insurance in Pennsylvania is available through the PA Insurance Department at www.insurance.pa.gov which also offers an automated hotline at (877) 881-6388.